Education startups aren’t the only ones trying to disrupt the system. New York City itself is borrowing some of the principles from the startup world– like user-centric design, innovation labs, beta testing–to see if the can change the lagging system from within.
The challenge of the Innovation Zone, or iZone project is think beyond the status quo. Since the project has more meaningful problems to contend, we’ll try not to harp on the derivative nickname.As the BBC reports:
They’re being told to find new ways to provide a more individualised education, to change the shape of the school day, explore what technology can offer and even ask whether pupils need to be in school at all.
“The challenge we face is nothing less than transforming our schools from assembly-line factories into centres of innovation,” said the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who warns that the US school system is falling behind international rivals.
The program is being tested in the NYC Laboratory School for Collaborative Studies, a middle school in Chelsea, where Principal Brooke Jackson’s plan is to “get away from the idea of students going through the school day in fixed blocks of lessons, divided by age groups, and to create customised programmes, based on individual needs and abilities.”
Although iZone was launched last year, before Cathie Black ever sit foot in a school board meeting, its mission dovetails with several issues roiling more than just the protesters in Zucotti Park. Namely: what is the value of an education if it can’t ensure you gainful employment and where is New York’s economy heading? Judging by Mayor Bloomberg’s recent visits to New York Tech Meetup and Demo Day, and his support of the tech campus on Roosevelt Island, he’s betting on startups.